Barney Frank: In Massachusetts and elsewhere, experience has put the lie to warnings of religious rights being trampled and other concerns.
In the spirit of conciliation, I want to offer reassurance to those who reacted to the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision with a mix of outrage and horror: It will have no effect on how you live your lives.
This is not a prediction of what will happen in the future. It is a distillation of the nearly 12 years of experience in Massachusetts since our Supreme Judicial Court issued the forerunner of this ruling in 2003. No member of the clergy has had to participate in any marriage she or he found sinful, immoral or even offensive. No house of worship has been forced to open any of its premises – sanctuaries, function halls or, as much as I can ascertain, even parking lots – for ceremonies that contravene their religious tenets.
Opposite-sex marriages have proceeded just as they did in 2002 and before, and the divorce rate has not spiraled. There has been no movement toward legalizing polygamy nor to provide legal sanction to incestuous relationships.
Musical groups have retained fully the right to decide at which celebrations they will perform, and bakers who refuse to decorate cakes with depictions of sexual activity have been under no obligation to change this policy. Contrary to some hysterical expressions of concern, for Massachusetts heterosexuals the “institution of marriage” has not been diminished, unsettled or changed in any way whatsoever by my marrying Jim.
I understand why these fears existed at the time. A number of authority figures – religious, political, judicial and others – stoked them, and because we had no prior experience with the practice, refuting them was difficult.
That is why it is important to focus on the factual record, not just in Massachusetts but in Iowa, New Hampshire, Connecticut and other states where same-sex couples have been getting married for years with no negative consequences on the rest of